Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Calusa Village

As you may know, The Colonel and I are Historical Voyagers for our county's historical center. That means we get to dress up and teach local history to children and adults alike. We have dressed as Calusa Indians before and had a time travel program where historical figures are brought through a time portal to tell their stories (not all are from the past or local...I portrayed a Mars colonist once).

Our most recent historical program was a marriage of the Calusa Indians and time travel. Instead of characters coming out of the time portal, this time the program attendees were going to go through the portal themselves and go back in time to visit a Calusa village.

We had the perfect place for our Calusa village. It would be in the palm tree festooned atrium of one of the local libraries.

We volunteers (some were also library employees) showed up on the morning of March 15th at ten to start getting things ready for our village. We had to block off some of the doors and windows with black plastic and then place palm fronds around other windows to help block the atrium from viewers inside the library. The Colonel had cut the large palm fronds from across the road in front of our house a couple of days prior.

This is what it looked like if you were standing inside the library looking out towards the atrium.

The program director had all kinds of boxes filled with props to help us "dress up" our Calusa village.

The atrium was indeed going to make the perfect scene for our village.

We all began placing shells, Spanish moss and other items around to make our village look more "inhabited".

We set up our cooking area too. The Colonel and our program director had fabricated the fire. The flames are cloth with a fan and lights below. It was part of an old Halloween prop The Colonel and I used in past years. The embers and charcoal were made with spray foam, red Christmas lights, orange wiffle balls, bits of real charcoal and paint. When you see it turned on in the dark it looks like a real fire.

We were satisfied that our village looked authentic enough and it was time to call it a day. Our program would not begin until the next afternoon. We used this day to get things prepped. We would still have some to do the next day before the program started.

The program was to begin at 2 p.m. but we all showed up around noon Like I said, there was still a bit more to set up. We put the final touches on the village and got all of the stations along the walkway finished. Then the program director and I helped The Colonel to set up the time machine and portal. It was time for us to get dressed before the program started. A nice crowd of parents and children were beginning to fill the children's area of the library.

Two Calusa women waiting for the program to start.

Finally, it was time for the program to begin. The program director and The Colonel became Steampunk scientists and powered up the portal in preparation for the travel through time to our Calusa village.

Our program director lead the parents and children into the portal. From the looks on their faces I think that they enjoyed their time travel to our village. The first stop in our village was at the cooking station. Two Calusas were tending the fire and roasting several kinds of fish.

Notice the homogenized look of our Calusa skins/shirts?

Following the trail through the village, the time travelers next came upon our tool maker. He was making arrows and conch shell hammers.

Pieces of pottery have been unearthed in Calusa mounds and we had our own Calusa potter in the village. This Calusa was portrayed by one of the women in my DAR chapter. This was her first foray into volunteering as a living history docent (Historical Voyager) for the county. I think she may be hooked.

Across from the potter were two Calusa women. One was working on making a net. The Calusa depended heavily upon the waters in the local area for their food supply. The other woman was making cordage. She took natural fibers and rolled them between her hands.

My station along the village's path was the next. I was the village's weaver. The program director asked me what I was weaving and I told her a blanket (by the looks of my weaving it was going to be a blanket for a Barbie or a hot pad).

To my right and at the next stop along the path was our village artist. He was painting wooden masks and telling our visitors all about Calusa art. The Calusa were very skilled artisans. Articulated deer masks have been found in Calusa ruins. The deer mask below is a replica of one found during an archaeological dig.

The last stop in our village was a visit with our king, Calos. 

He had gifts at his feet. The program director showed the correct way to address the king by kneeling down in front of him and cupping your hands upwards. The king then would cup his hands over your hands.

The king's throne was the last stop in our village. The time travelers now had to go back through the portal and return to their own time. Once they were back in the library's children section they could make Calusa shell jewelry or paper masks. Even the adults were having a good time at the crafts table.

The Calusa-Time Travel program was a hit. I had a ball portraying a Calusa Indian again. The first time I did it was a cold and windy February day alongside the Peace River. The atrium made a better, more comfortable site for our Calusa village.

NOTE: Thanks goes to Yam for taking some of the pictures of the Calusa and the village. She was able to attend the program while she was dropping off  flyers at the library as part of her job.